A FEW CASUALTIES SO WHAT

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Chapter 21

Everyone has a six sense whether they know it or not. For some it’s like Spider-man’s

spidey sense warning him that something bad was about to happen. In Pone’s business, a

six sense can be life and death if not used correctly. Pone was six blocks away from Nadine.

He wanted to see Birdie and grill her about Wisdom because he felt she knew something and

wasn’t telling him. So he decided to take a walk to clear his head and for some relaxation. He

got tired of sitting home because all he did was worry about his mentor which made him want

to interrogate Birdie so instead of getting the run around from her he figured that a walk

through the city along with letting the cool breeze clear his head would do him some good.

Unfortunately his six sense was telling him that he wasn’t walking alone. Sure there were

other patrons sharing the side walk; some going in the same direction and others in the

opposite. Pone’s problem was that itch he couldn’t scratch. He knew better than to look back

and spook his would-be pursuer. He also hoped the fool wouldn’t start shooting since innocence:

men, women, and children, were out doing their daily routine. Definitely not the time for a

few casualties so what.

Pone continued his journey till he spotted an old watering hole he hadn’t been to for a

long time. It was an average sized establishment located on the down-side of the city, the

outbound of the city. The building was Gothic black which made the city happy it was

outbound instead of inbound, square in front and back with a rectangular body wedge

between two newly built and several blocks away from the urine stench of the Greyhound

bus station on 900 Trade Street. Before the new condos, the area was known as cutthroat

lane. Men got drunk and flashed their loot only to get their throat slit once outside the bar.

Pone stepped inside the bar hoping his tag along would follow and stick out like a sore thumb.

Pone wasn’t Gothic, but his wardrobe was black and that made him close enough. He stood at the

entrance staring at what kept from this side of town. A five-eight one-hundred and fifty-five pounds

of dancer muscle behind the soot bar. Her name was Queen Garret. Queen had hard beauty being

raised by a hard nose father and no mother. Queen’s dad was a retired MMA fighter who gave as

good as he got and used his earnings to purchase a bar which he named The Raven Cavern. He

unfortunately took too many hits to the head and was put in a home leaving the bar in Queen’s

care forcing her to quit the exotic dancing circuit which probably made the old man happy.

Queen was strong mentally and physically. She was serving beer to a patron when she looked and

spotted Pone. Queen motioned to a tall, muscular Gothic man who looked like Mister Clean except

for the ebony lips and eye liner. He donned a black leather vest and leather pants.

Pone scoped out the place to make sure it didn’t turn into a gay club. Nope, it was dark and

gloomy Goth with a handful of normal looking people. When Queen was done talking to Mister

Clean, she used her eyes to motion Pone into following her to the back of the bar. He obliged.

Queen stood with her back to Pone in the Gothic dark hall-way. What light shone was enough

for him to get a close up on Queen’s body from behind. Tanning booths were not her thing; she

was totally Goth with raven shoulder length hair and he knew she kept her signature Moe Stooge

style bang cut above her eyes. Tattoos decorated most of her body to the point she may join the

Yakuza, thought Pone. Her outfit was also all black; sports bra top, spandex leggings, and

pumps.

The walk to her office wasn’t like the green mile, and many convicts would’ve loved to

have that walk. Pone smiled thinking all the women in his life were strong and independent.

Inside the office were pale white walls and jet black furniture. It was small and cozy with

three goth-like paintings on the wall. The floor was sandal-wood and clean. She dimmed the

light, went to her desk drawer took out a mirror, wiped her lips with tissue only to paint them

again. When she was done, she strode over to Pone. Her lips were glossy rose red.

She tilted her head sideways. “I am a lady, Chubby.”

In a gentle manner, Pone took off his hat and tossed it on the sofa.

“Can you tell me what that painting is?” asked Queen.

Pone looked to the right wall and studied the painting; orange, red, black. And yellow

colors smeared on rectangle, square, triangle, and circle shapes.

“Picasso,” said Pone.

\

“Hardly,” said Queen.

Pone analyzed the painting a little closer. “Well, I always thought Picasso was overrated anyway.”

He turned back toward Queen only to meet a powerful right cross that knocked him back against the

door. Before he could recover, she bum-rushed him pressing him tightly against the door with her

muscular arms.

“Two years. Two fucking years and you bring you ass to my bar. What the fuck do you want?”

Pone shook off the cobwebs. “First … ow.”

Queen released him.

“I need your help,” said Pone.

A quick powerful left cross sent Pone to the sofa almost landing on his derby. Queen straddled

him on the sofa.

“I gave you my number … what was I a notch in your belt?”

Pone rubbed his jaw. “No … look there are three women in my life.”

Queen glared.

Pone held up his hand. “They’re like my sister, okay. I fear for their lives every day.

I don’t need a fourth.”

“I can take care of myself,” said Queen.

“No doubt,”

Queen sat beside Pone. “Sisters, huh?”

“Grew up with two of them.”

“So the other could be more?′

“She’s like my boss. Red.”

“Brigand.”

“You’ve heard of her?”

“Perks of owning a bar. People drink and talk. You know you’re a good looking man?”

“I’m not a womanizer. I was taught by a special lady how to treat women.”

“She never told you how one night stands could hurt?”

“I had my reasons,”

“So you didn’t lie to me?”

Pone smiled. “You took my virginity.”

Queen blushed. “So trouble brought you back into my life?”

“Not if you’re going to use me as a punching bag.”

“I felt used … you hurt me, and I wanted to hurt you.”

Pone rubbed his face. “You happy now?”

“What’s going on, Chubby?”

“I think I’m being followed.”

“Okay,”

“Need you to go out to the bar and see who sticks out like a soar thumb.” Pone was

mesmerized how the ruby lips and eye shadow highlighted Queen’s face. “I know it’s a

stretch,”

“I got this, I can tell a fish out of water.”

Queen sneaked in a quick erotic kiss that ended with her biting his lower lip before she left.

Pone tasted some blood and shook his head. The woman like it rough. He sat in deep thought,

all the women in his life were strong; Shelia Green, took a bullet because of her connection to

Wisdom. Red, Birdie, and Jade were connected to him. Queen like Red were self-employed. Red

and Birdie had glamorous lady-like beauty while Queen’s beauty came from the school of hard

knocks.

Queen came back and sat next to Pone. “Okay, Milt thinks you hot.”

Pone pursed his lips. “You bartender?”

“Don’t worry, he knows you don’t swing that way.”

Pone smiled. Never trust a who’s comfortable wearing leather.

“And he said some tall blonde guy wearing jeans, Khaki breaker, and a red flannel shirt sat

down surveying the place from a corner table like he was looking for someone.”

“Must be him.” said Pone. He looked into Queen’s eyes realizing that she could be woman

number four in his life.

“Does he want to kill you?” asked Queen.

“Welcome to my world.”

“How can I help?” She held his hand.

”You got that mandatory drinking policy?”

“How else am I’m gonna make money?”

“I need you to get him seated at the bar drinking. Tell him tables are for couples and give me

five minutes. Engage him in a conversation until I leave. Look at the door and make sure he

follows your eyes.”

“You really want him to follow you?′

“You want to clean up the mess in your bar?”

“He’ll be right behind you?”

Before Queen could exit, Pone grabbed her arm. “Are the police more visible since they put

up those condos?”

Queen snorted. “It ain’t exactly cut-throat alley, but we still at the bottom of the society

pool.”

Five minutes can be like that traffic light when you want green you get red and vice verse. The

five minutes Pone wanted went by faster than a rat crossing the room.

Pone stood in the entrance hallway. Queen did her job luring the man to the bar giving him hard

liquor, Pone made it to the bar entrance tipping his hat on the way out.

“Have a nice day, sir,” said Queen.

The man saw the back of Pone’s head and almost fell off his stool watching him leave.

“Hey!” said Queen. “Drinks ain’t free.”

The man tossed a ten and a twenty. “Keep the change,”

Call it a cliche`, but fights and murders seem to go hand in hand; Gangsters, thugs, and Rogue’s

gallery are people who believe in street survival; they all love bars and clubs with alleys and dumpsters

hidden from the public eye. The tall man didn’t know where Pone ran off to, but he speculated it was

down the alley between the dumpsters lined up against a black painted brick wall. He stood about five

feet from the dumpsters glancing up and down the Gothic theme brick wall.

He was about to walk away.

“How much?” a voice behind a recycle bin. The man stared at the recycling bin. Had he had

too much to drink. He was relieved when he saw Pone ease out from behind it. The man was about

twenty yards away. He looked about six-five, well built, and in his mid-twenties.

“We don’t have to do this . . . look the man who hired you is probably a nobody. So if you walk

away he can’t hurt you,” said Pone.

The man only stood and stared. Pone snorted and thought White had already sacrificed his family so

it was Krasko turn and he chose a big one to be his champion. If they were cousins, Pone was not about

ask.

“You gonna talk me to death or are we gonna bop? The man roared.

Pone couldn’t help but laugh. The guy was defiantly probono using the word bop for fight, but then

again bop also meant dance in probono. Pone knew the man didn’t come to do the funky chicken or the

Latin hustle. He put up his dukes and Pone knew the man was another Arnold Pratt.

Pone stepped to the man who surprisingly threw two quick right jabs followed by a left hook. Pone

dodged all the punches. The man was big and slow and telegraph what he was going to do. No

weapons. Pone anticipated the plan was to land a few stun punches then move in and maybe break his

neck. Pone knew when fighting a bigger opponent, the smaller man had to get in close in order to do

damage.

The man went for a hay-maker with his left, Pone ducked and saw the man’s right knee planted

solidly. He hit the knee with a round house kick. The man buckled to the ground, but had enough

instinct to protect his left jaw from Pone’s backhanded fist blow and caught Pone with a solid right

hook to the jaw. Pone was stunned and on his back. For a brief moment, Pone remembered a

conversation of a retired boxer who said though he was no longer quick, but if he

connected, it was lights out. Pone wasn’t out, but he had cobwebs. Like a jungle cat, the man pounced

on him.

Just as Pone thought, the plan was to stun then get those big mitts around his throat. Mission

accomplished, but Wisdom always said when falling to the ground be sure to keep your arms free. Pone

did as the man straddled him, had he not it would have been arrive-derci.

The man’s body weight was forcing air from Pone’s body and to make matters worse, he was also

being strangled. The good news was, Pone used his left hand and grabbed one wrist to loosen the man’s

grip and with his right, he pounded the man’s nose with a heel strike forcing an eruption of blood. The

man felt the blows, but he was bigger. stronger, and younger. He kept on squeezing. Pone felt his lungs

burning, but kept hammering away at the man’s face until he heard a bop and the man fell to the side

against the wall.

Pone sat up gasping for air and rubbing his throat. He looked up and saw another giant clad in black

leather. Milton. He was swinging a Louisville slugger. Pone shook his head. Boy, these Goths were

really into black. Milton raised the bat high and was about to hit a home run.

“No!” Pone rose up shaking his head, “Let him live.”

“You sure, ’cause he was gonna do you in,” said Milton.

Pone nodded. “Let’s see if you knocked some sense into him,”

Milton held the bat like a ball player. “Your call,”

The man sat up against the wall looking a little groggy and rubbing his head. He used the sleeve of

his arm to wipe his nose. He looked at Pone.

“I had you.”

“Shut up and listen or I’ll have my friend here swing away,”

The man glared at Pone.

“Your nose is probably broken and that comment alone proves you’re not cut out for this,”

Pone took out his wallet grabbing a hand full of hundred dollar bills tossed them at the man.

“Take that and there’s a Greyhound station a few blocks inbound and get the hell out of town. If I

see you in town . . . if I see you at a hot dog stand I will kill you.”

The man looked at the money.

“Get set up else-where and send for your love ones if you got any, I gave a man a chance like I’m

giving you and now he’s in the bone yard.”

The man picked up the money and walked away.

Milton rested the bat on his shoulder. “You sure that was wise?”

“Some people aren’t as dumb as others,” said Pone.

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